During the St. Croix Coastal Zone Management Committee meeting on Tuesday, members voted unanimously to extend the decision-making period for the proposed rehabilitation plans for the visitor center at the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.
The initial presentation to the committee occurred a month ago and now the decision meeting is the final step for work to commence. The National Park Service is requesting a federal “consistency determination,” CZM permit No. CZX-2-21 – (FC), to perform post-hurricane rehabilitation at the visitor center. The rehabilitation will occur within its existing foundation footprint with repairs and alterations to the existing building to meet current code requirements.
According to project manager Doug Denk, the purpose of the project is to preserve the park’s scenic and historic resources and provide educational and recreational opportunities for the community. The project is slated to begin no later than September 2021.
After the final comments were conducted by Denk, CZM Chairwoman Massarae Sprauve-Webster expressed her concerns about having an element that is culturally appropriate on the exterior of the center.
“The design looks too boxy, and I do not see any cultural significance or Caribbean significance,” Sprauve-Webster said. “I’m just asking they put something on one or two of the buildings that makes it more appealing.”
“We are happy to discuss with anyone if there are some resources or people that we can meet with,” Denk said. His only concern was that changes to the structure could affect the budget.
Sprauve-Webster asked CZM Director Marlon Hibbert if there was any verbiage included in the terms that required National Park Service to include some element that is culturally appeasing on the building itself. After reading the terms Hibbert responded, “No.”
Sprauve-Webster said, “I am not requesting for them to go back to the drawing board. They can keep the structure as is, but they can place something on the exterior.”
To add the terms, the committee then went into an executive session. After almost an hour the board requested that the National Park Service meet with the Department of Planning and National Resources to discuss how they can further comply with the terms. Within or before the 45 days of the extended decision-making period, the National Park Services will present these changes to the committee.
Hibbert said, “The committee is in support of the project, but there are some changes that they would like to see. I think we can quickly reach a resolution if you have that discussion within your team and let us know what is possible.”
In other committee approvals, the St. Croix Yacht Club, Inc. was unanimously approved for a major CZM permit No. CZX-36-20 (L&W) for the yacht club to bring the property into compliance and to facilitate future work on the site. Representatives of the St. Croix Yacht Club are seeking a consolidated permit for all existing structures on the site and requested permission to conduct necessary repairs on an existing dock and to obtain approval of minor improvements and renovations on their grounds.